Blink, a mobile messaging application that lets users share self-destructing messages, has been acquired by Yahoo. The app competed in an increasingly crowded space alongside Snapchat, of course, but also newer entrants like Frankly, Confide, Wickr, and others. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.
All seven Blink team members, including the founders, will now be joining Yahoo.
Blink is a product of Meh Labs, a company founded by ex-Googler Kevin Stephens and Michelle Norgan. Originally, the startup had been focused on a location-based service called Kismet which grew popular around the time of SXSW 2012, when apps like Highlight and Banjo were starting to take off. However, Kismet never gained the necessary traction, so the team turned toward another mobile trend – that of private mobile messaging.
Blink first launched just over a year ago on iOS, and today users are able to text and share photos, videos, voice and more, with individuals or groups. These messages’ visibility could be controlled with a timer, so users can set how long they could be read or viewed after tapping.
When the company announced its arrival on Android earlier this year, it reported having around 100,000 downloads to date. Just over half of its user base was located in the U.S., but Blink was beginning to gain some ground in the Middle East, which became its second-largest market.
Stephens said at the time that Blink would begin to cater to that market more heavily with localization in Arabic, and hinted at plans to introduce pro features that would help make Blink something that could be used by contractors or business users, for example.
Those efforts are not coming to pass, however, as we understand that Blink will now be shut down in the weeks ahead. That implies that the deal for Blink was one that was more about the talent behind the app, rather than the app itself. Stephens, for instance, is a good hire for Yahoo, having previously served as senior director of device product partnerships at Boxee, as a PM at Google and YouTube, and as an engineer at Apple.
Through its earlier work with Kismet, Meh Labs had raised $1 million in seed funding from Triple Point, NEA, AngelPad, and various angel investors, including Shiva Rajaraman, Steph Hannon, Roham Gharegozlou, Ben Narasin, and others. We’re hearing that the investors are “pretty happy” with the exit, but it’s not a significant win by any means.
We also hear that Yahoo M&A is hesitant to call anything an “acquisition” these days. Apparently, they got burned by the notion that they have to buy companies to get talent, and investors are starting to question if the strategy works. That could be why Blink’s team declined to provide much detail about the deal, beyond its confirmation, when asked for official comment.
Here’s the full text from the Blink website: "We’re excited to announce that as of May 13, 2014, Blink is joining Yahoo! We built Blink because we believe everyone should be free to show the same honesty and spontaneity in their online conversations as they can in person. We look forward to the possibilities that will come from bringing the Blink vision to Yahoo. We can’t begin to express how grateful we are for your support throughout this journey. We hope you stick with us through the next chapter."